By: Daria Horbal, Pharm.D, RPh.
We all know the dangers of over-exposure to the sun. But getting enough sun can help you feel better and keep you healthy too!
When we venture out into the sun, ultraviolet B (UVB) rays cause a protein in our skin to convert to vitamin D. We need vitamin D to regulate calcium levels essential to bone health to avoid diseases like rickets, osteoporosis, and osteomalacia. But the health benefits don’t stop there. Moderate exposure can help fight Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cancers that target the colon, ovaries, pancreas, and prostate. Doctors also recommend UV exposure to treat skin diseases like psoriasis. New studies have also suggested that sunlight can treat conditions like lupus, thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and even Alzheimer’s.
Sun exposure can also benefit mental health by triggering the release of serotonin in your brain, making you calm and focused and keeping depression at bay. Exposure to fresh air also helps you feel better.
So, how much is too much? Your body limits the amount of vitamin D it produces from sunlight, and production reaches its maximum quite quickly. Once it does, there is no advantage to additional exposure. It is critical to monitor and abide by your area UV Index (UVI) and use common sense. More than 15 minutes unprotected can damage cell DNA and cause skin cancer.
Getting enough sun is essential to your health strategy, but balancing ‘enough’ with ‘too much’ is crucial. But the best part is that you might just find the sweet spot lying on your favourite beach!